Mumbai march into semis with all-win record

MUMBAI GARUDAS gave themselves a major boost ahead of the semi-finals as they maintained their all-win record with a 4-3 victory over Haryana Hammers in a Pro wrestling League (PWL) contest at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium here on Thursday.

It was the last encounter of the league stage which perhaps fittingly, witnessed a battle between the two strongest teams in the tournament.

With this win, Mumbai held onto their top spot on the PWL table with 10 points, having won all five of their league matches. 

The Garudas will now clash with Bengaluru Yodhas in the semi-finals. The Yodhas finished the league stage at the fourth place.

Haryana meanwhile, suffered their second defeat. They had lost only one of their four earlier league matches, going down to Punjab Royals last Tuesday. They remained at the third position on the table with six points.

They will take on second placed Punjab Royals in the semi-finals on Saturday. Punjab also took six points from the league stage, but are ahead of Haryana on points difference.

Both semi-finals will be held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi.

Former Asian champion Rahul Aware gave Mumbai a winning start by defeating Nitin Kumar of Haryana 7-2 in the men's 57kg division. 

Both wrestlers were somewhat defensive in the opening round with Aware taking a 1-0 lead. 

The second round saw an explosive start as Nitin brought down his opponent to take two points but Aware replied almost instantly with a single leg hold. But as the bout wore on, Aware's superior technique gradually began to exert its dominance and ultimately proved too much for the comparatively inexperienced Nitin.

Five-time World Champion Oksana Herhel lived upto her reputation when she brought Haryana back on level terms by beating Sakshi Malik of Mumbai 4-2 in the women's 58kg section. The Ukrainian star thus maintained her all-win record in the tournament.

Oksana asserted her dominance early on, cruising to a comfortable 4-0 lead at the break. To her credit, Sakshi fought back to reduce the deficit in the second round, but it did not prove to be enough to prevent her first defeat in the PWL.

The Hammers surged into the lead when Cuba's 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist Livan Lopez Azcuy outclassed Pradeep Kumar of Mumbai by technical superiority (11-0) in the men's 74kg category. Up 4-0 at the end of the first round, the Cuban produced a superb counter-attack in the second period to bring down his opponent from a standing position and build up an insurmountable lead.

Reigning World Champion Adeline Gray equalised for Mumbai by defeating Haryana's Geetika Jakhar 7-1 in the women's 69kg event. Despite the substantial difference in the final points tally, Geetika -- a member of the Haryana Police -- displayed plenty of fighting spirit.

Geetika gave the three-time World Champion a tough fight in the opening round before Adeline took a 3-0 lead thanks to a lightning quick leg hold. Geetika continued to give Adeline a hard time in the second round, but with just over a minute to go, the American star increased the lead by bringing down her opponent with a single leg hold before unleashing the Fitley move.

Giorgi Sakandelidze put Mumbai in front when he outclassed Hitender of Haryana by technical superiority (10-0) in the men's 125kg division.

Giorgi was clearly far superior in terms of technique and quickly built up a 7-0 lead before wrapping up the issue in style with the Fitley move.

Ritu Phogat (women's 48kg) gifted Mumbai an unassailable 4-2 lead in the seven-bout contest by edging past Nirmal Devi of Haryana 5-4 in a hard fought bout.

Adritsev Valeriy reduced the margin of defeat for the Hammers by defeating Odikadze Elizbar of Mumbai in a evenly balanced clash in the men's 97kg class.

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